Oxshott, Stoke and Fairmile

If you were looking for the survey for Fairmile, Oxshott and Stoke d’Abernon it is here.

If your issue of concern is not listed here please email dorothyfordlibdem@gmail

These are the issues that have been raised on the doorstep or by campaign literature in the campaign:

Improving Oxshott High Street

Of course, no “A” class road should pass through any town or village – other countries, like Denmark, have completely removed such through traffic.  In the longer term Oxshott needs a by-pass.

The Liberal Democrats believe that we can make our Oxshott village centre a pleasant place to be in despite the amount of traffic that flows through the town.  We can shorten travel time for motorists, increase trade for our shops, and make the roads safer for our children and the elderly.  Enable more people to cycle, which will itself also reduce congestion.  Allow people with disabilities and the infirm to navigate their way through the traffic and reduce their stress.

Conventional safety experts will tell you that we need traffic lights, roundabouts, tactile bubble paving and a vast array of signs but it is simply not true.

The following video shows what can be done with the will and the imagination.   If the main road is to be remodelled let us make sure that it is designed to the highest standards.  Don’t let the naysayers sell us short.

If Poynton can achieve these excellent results then surely Oxshott can do so too.  What are your views?

One of the advantages that Poynton had was that the highway authority and the planning authority were the same – Cheshire East Council.  Our planning authority – Elmbridge – and our highway authority – Surrey – are separate but that does not mean that they cannot work together to provide the outcomes we need.

The problems can occur when changes are proposed and there is no discussion between the relevant parties.

For other Fairmile, Oxshott and Stoke items click here.

Housing

This is what it says in the Conservative manifesto:

Build Affordable Housing: recognise the need to build more affordable homes in Elmbridge. I pledge to work with my colleagues to identify sites where additional properties can be constructed without negatively impacting existing communities.

A pleasant sentiment but words butter no parsnips. This century Elmbridge borough did not build a single home.  So the Conservatives have had plenty of time to do something.

But once Lib Dems formed an administration the action began, three projects were begun in Cobham, Ditton and Weybridge.  Parallel work has been undertaken to set up a borough owned housing company.  As opportunities arise new social and affordable housing will be built to suit the needs of each community.

Although the national government says we have to allow more housing in Elmbridge.  The bigger problem is that Elmbridge has a skewed range of housing that is ill suited to the needs of its people.  We have a large number houses with six or more bedrooms but far to few one and two bedroom flats and smaller three bedroom houses.

Whilst some people might aspire to one day owning a six bedroomed house, very few people can consider a six bedroom house as a starter home.  People who are born in Oxshott, Fairmile and Stoke d’Abernon should have a reasonable chance to find a home locally to buy or rent and not have to emigrate out of Elmbridge to find a home of their own.

 

By-Election in Oxshott and Stoke d’Abernon Ward

Why was the by-election called?  Put simply it was because the incumbent, Cllr James Vickers, resigned.  Why would a councillor resign just after the local elections?  Of course, James knows but was his reason for resigning personal as the Conservatives say?  Reports say not.

First, a little background.  In the election of 2016 all the councillors were up for election at once.  This was because of boundary changes.

Oliver Chappell had the highest result so his term of office was set for four years.

 

Andrew Burley and James Vickers tied at second place.  So to determine whose office would last for three years and whose would last for two years, lots had to be drawn.

 

James Vickers expressed the wish that his term last only two years but there was a legal requirement to draw lots. James won the lot so he was due to serve for three years.  In other words until May 2019

 

It was clear that James would rather serve for a shorter term and to do so he could have resigned in May.  This would have avoided the considerable cost of the by-election around £8,000 to £10,000 for the borough and perhaps £3,000 for the candidates.

Second, the election in May resulted in gains for the Liberal Democrats, net gains for the Conservatives, losses for five of residents’ parties and a wipe out for one residents’ party.  The Conservatives totalled 24 councillors as did the Lib Dems and Residents.    Neither side had a working majority.  The Leader of the borough council, Stuart Selleck of Molesey Residents’ Party, chose to resign.

Without a working majority the new Conservative administration could not guarantee to pass their policies.  The Liberal Democrats believe that such an arrangement would have been in the interests of the people of Elmbridge.  To make the governing of the borough as smooth as possible the party leader agreed a protocol, the details of which are here  Operational Protocol 2018 19.

We, in the Liberal Democrats, expected business as usual.  We were newly in opposition.  However, it quickly became clear that internal squabbles of the Conservative party could not be contained in private.

A small point.  Usually, when the new cabinet is formed they sit in the front benches – as in the national parliament.  But when the council met for the first time some cabinet members had been bounced to the back benches by other factions in the Conservative party.

But then came the bombshell. At the beginning of every year, as each committee meets, the members elect the chair and vice-chair of that committee.  Normally the nominee of the majority party is elected unopposed.  Occasionally there is a contest between the parties for their nominees which is duly won by the majority party.  But this year, in one committee, the Conservatives proposed two councillors for chair.

When the presiding officer sought nominees, Cllr James Vickers nominated Cllr Dorothy Mitchell of Cobham.  Then Cllr James Browne of Cobham nominated Cllr Barry Cheyne of Oatlands.  The councillors from the other parties were dumbfounded. The staff found it difficult to mask their own surprise in their stringent professional presentation of independence.

Cllr Barry Cheyne won the vote and Cllr Dorothy Mitchell stormed out of the room and did not reappear for the remainder of the meeting.  Not long after this meeting James Vickers resigned.

However the Conservative try and present it in public, the Conservatives are clearly not happy bunnies.  By all accounts James Vickers resigned “on a matter of principle”.  He did not like the direction of travel of the new Conservative administration.  Not so much the policies but the general conduct of business within the Conservative Party.

Now you have a chance to make a real difference and vote for Dorothy Ford and the Liberal Democrats.

Cycling in Oxshott, Fairmile and Stoke

CyclingEvery time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race.  H G. Wells

Cllr John O’Reilly, who represents Hersham at Surrey and is also the chair of Surrey Elmbridge Local Committee, is known as a cyclist and is keen to make cycling safer in Elmbridge.  To do so, would require a vision of what we would want to achieve over time and a strategy to get us there.

The Liberal Democrats in Elmbridge want to pursue the the aim of making cycling safer to reduce air pollution, congestion and to help people become healthier.  Cycling also supports the local retail economy and makes our towns and villages stronger communities through the increase in serendipitous meetings.

Vision  An Elmbridge of physically, mentally and spiritually healthy people of all ages enjoying fresh air and a high quality of life.

Mission To enable all the people of Elmbridge – who wish to do so – to cycle safely.

Strategy
To achieve our mission our strategy is based on our being:

  • Utilitarian. We focus on a person’s ability to cycle from home to the key places that make their life work: their school or workplace, their station, their town centre. Therefore routes to these places are dealt with first.
  • Network based. We understand that the benefits are far greater if networks are created.  It is little use to have a safe stretch that suddenly ends in a dangerous spot – like Blundel Lane Bridge
  • Inclusive.  We bring as many agencies, organisations and groups and people together to compound the benefits and spread the message.
  • Incremental. Although we have a clear and ambitious vision we know that many small steps made by many people eases the journey
  • Anticipatory. We take advantage of possible opportunities that might arise by anticipating requirements before they occur
  • Communicative. We engage with everyone and keep them informed
  • Sustainable. We strive to be socially and environmentally sustainable in everything that we do.

What would you like to see in a cycling strategy?

The Dutch and Danes developed a comprehensive approach over many decades.  A good place to begin is to help secondary students below the age of seventeen to feel safe enough (along with their parents)  to cycle to school.  Yet on cycling out of Reeds School there is little evidence that cycling is a serious possibility.  Everything else being equal student who cycle achieve more than those who are driven to school.

When we see most parents cycling with their children to primary school rather than driving – like the Dutch and Danes – then we will know we’d have cracked it.  It is much quicker to cycle than walk – although walking can be fun too.

Green Belt in Long Ditton

Long Ditton councillors, Shweta Kapadia, Barry Fairbank and Neil Houston wish to dispute the statement made by Hinchley Wood/Long Ditton Green Belt group that they are doing nothing to protect the Green Belt.  All three of them are working hard and will continue to work hard to protect the Green Belt. All councillors recognize the need for housing but do not agree with building on the Green Belt.

Every single councillor in Elmbridge is against building on the Green Belt.  An application for over 1,000 homes in Green Belt in Walton was unanimously refused by the Residents’ Association (RA), Tory and Lib Dem councillors.  The borough has poured vast resources into defending the Drake Park Appeal last November to defend Elmbridge Green Belt. But the national government has ignored the will of the people and the borough and the application will now be determined by a Conservative Secretary of State – till recently Sajid Javid and now James Brokenshire. The Drake Park decision was however ‘deferred’ only a few days ago until after the Elmbridge Election.  Just weeks ago Sajid Javid allowed 300 homes in the Green Belt in Effingham, Guildford, although the parish and borough refused permission. There is an appeal still outstanding for Wisley (2,000 homes) which will similarly be determined by a Conservative government minister.

Are local Conservatives going to defy their national government and not build on the Green Belt or in fact not build the 12,500 homes this Conservative government wants to build in Elmbridge? Conservative councillors in other Surrey districts have allowed building on the Green Belt. Tandridge Council is planning a whole new village in the Green Belt. Guildford has released land in the Green Belt. Are Elmbridge Conservatives going to be the only ones in the country to defy their Government?

Only the Liberal Democrats and the Residents’ Association councillors can defy this Conservative government. The Residents’ Association / Liberal Democrat coalition administration has done just that: they have lobbied and put considerable pressure on Dominic Raab and Philip Hammond, Elmbridge’s two MPs. But being Conservative both of them are toeing the national party line and will not say that the Green Belt should not be built on even though they know the borough’s residents are against it. The RAs / Lib Dem administration has also protested to Sajid Javid highlighting the deficit in infrastructure provision in Elmbridge. The administration responded robustly against the large amount of housing that this Conservative government is attempting to force on Elmbridge.

Regards the Elmbridge consultation in 2016/17 on the new Local Plan and Green Belt review – the facts of the matter are: All Elmbridge councillors voted UNANIMOUSLY for the consultation on the Strategic Options which took place in December 2016. The minutes of the meeting of full council held in December 2016 clearly show that.

Until Tory politics on the Local Plan started, Tories, RAs and Liberal Democrats worked on this together. There are the Conservatives and three RAs and only one Liberal Democrat on the Local Plan Working Group so the Tories have a strong voice on this working group and they agreed to the consultation.

There is a large amount of mis-information circulating. Since the public consultation in December 2016 Elmbridge Borough Council has not produced any specific proposals in relation to the Local Plan and there has been no vote in the council on building on the Green Belt for the Conservatives to have opposed it.

Councillors’ Allowances

In the recent Conservative Party manifesto they say

“They even put up their personal allowances by 12%”

Here is the truth

Coupled with the reduction in the number of councillors, the overall councillor pay bill was reduced by £22,547 a year.  In 2008/09 the total councillor allowances and expenses came to £389,296.  In 2017/18 the total was £338,855, a reduction of over 13% or £50,000.

In May 2016 the number of councillors of Elmbridge borough was reduced 60 to 48.  This move was supported by the Liberal Democrats who would rather have had the number of councillors set to 32 or even fewer.

In consideration of this reduction in the number of councillors and the consequent increase in workload, the the independent body that recommends councillors’ pay decided to undertake a comprehensive review of councillors’ pay in Elmbridge.

The Liberal Democrats view was whatever the review body recommended, we would accept it.

The review decided that councillors should be paid less than £7 an hour (the minimum living wage is £8.75-£10.20). Some pay would be cut, others increased – depending on the workload involved.

The Liberal Democrats voted to implement the recommendations of the independent review body. The Conservative did not.  So the Conservatives voted to set up an independent review body to remove the possibility of councillors setting their own pay and then – when the review body reported its findings – voted against the findings.

The review was coherent and comprehensive – see the report for yourself Report of the Independent Remuneration Panel – September 2016.

Vicki Macleod (Weybridge Riverside)

Vicki Macleod (Weybridge Riverside)

Vicki is a long term resident of Weybridge with a strong history of action in the community.

She is a Founder Member of the ElmWey Learning Trust, and was a Governor at Heathside School from 2010 to 2016 when the Trust was established. She has a strong interest in the wellbeing of pupils in the Trust’s schools and of vulnerable members of our community. She continues to be involved with local charities for the elderly as a Trustee of the Weybridge Old Folks Club.

If elected as councillor for Weybridge Riverside, Vicki will bring her considerable knowledge of Weybridge and professional skills, developed in a number of management and business roles, to this work.

I will do my utmost to ensure that, in these times of austerity, Elmbridge Borough acts in the best interests of all who live in Elmbridge, as well as seeking to bring much needed improvements to Weybridge.”

1. Vicki Macleod is a long-term resident of Weybridge, having moved here to work with Surrey Special Schools in 1991. She is well known locally and is embedded in the community through her work with charities for the elderly and with Heathside School. Vicki brings energy, interest and commitment to all she is involved in.

2. Vicki fully will work for more affordable and council housing, careful stewardship of the environment and to ensure our towns are great places to live. She supports the restoration and improvement of health provision in Weybridge and a future-proof ap-proach to traffic and parking in Weybridge.